U.S., Japan, Taiwan Launch WTO High-Tech Challenge Against EU

U.S. claims that the EU is taxing innovation.

Claiming that the EU is violating World Trade Organization rules by imposing duties on imports of certain products such as "cable boxes that can access the Internet, flat-panel computer monitors, and certain computer printers that can also scan, fax and/or copy," the U.S., Japan and Taiwan have asked the WTO to settle their dispute against the EU.

Global exports of these products were estimated at over $70 billion in 2007, the US Trade Presentative office said.

A WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) signed in 1996 prohibits duties on certain high-technology products.

"The EU committed to bind and eliminate duties on ITA products in its WTO tariff schedules. We believe that these duties are inconsistent with the EUs commitments on these products, and that they discourage technological innovation in the IT sector," said US Trade Representative Susan Schwab. "However, the EU claims it can now charge duties on these products simply because they incorporate technologies or features that did not exist when the ITA was concluded.

"In effect, the EU is taxing innovation -- a move that could impair continued technological development in the information technology industry and raise prices for millions of businesses and consumers," she said.

The WTO dispute settlement body is to consider the joint request at its next meeting, on August 29, according to the USTR office.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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